Although I had the best time at the American Atheists Convention, the week following it has been a hard week for me to be a female. Not because I don’t enjoy being a female, because I absolutely do, but rather because of the blatant sexism that has been thrown in my direction all week long. Where to begin…
It all started with a long Facebook post from an acquaintance declaring how men are just as affected by sexism as women. The comments got dumb (as long comment threads usually do), and there seemed to be a general lack of willingness to even try to understand just how rampant sexism against women really is. While I agree that it’s not a contest, and that there are definitely challenges that men face, it’s dishonest to make the claim that men are overall treated the same as women in our male dominated society.
From there it lead to several instances of mansplaining throughout the week. I fully admit that I am a little sensitive in this area, but damn it I’m an educated, intelligent woman and I expect the person I’m in a discussion with to act as such. Instead, I had definitions of very simple words explained to me, chats where the other person was extremely condescending, and some other very basic concepts (that I am fully familiar with) explained to me in very simplistic terms, I’m sure so that my tiny girl brain could keep up.
The week wrapped up with a particularly insulting interaction. I was in a town about an hour away with a company vehicle, and the screw from the visor popped out and the visor was hanging at a weird angle, obstructing my vision. I stopped at Sears to purchase a screwdriver to fix it. I headed to the tool section and in the 30 seconds I spent scanning for a phillips screwdriver, an employee, a gentleman in his 40s, came over and asked if there was anything he could help me with. I told him no, I just needed a screwdriver. He asked me if I knew what kind I needed, and I said yes, thank-you. He proceeded to explain the different between a phillips and a flat head. I told him I was aware, and I just needed a phillips, thanks. He said, “well aren’t you a good girl?” and walked off.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. I can’t count how many times people have asked if I need to ask my husband before doing something, have given the change or receipt from my purchase to my husband, have explained things that I am fully aware of in simplistic terms, or refused to have a conversation with me about whatever “manly” topic at hand – my car, electronics, leadership, etc.
For far too long I have been silent in this area. Women are conditioned to do this, because when we do call someone out, we are criticized for being overly sensitive, easily offended, and attention seeking. I would often not say anything because I didn’t want to deal with the drama that would ensue. However, staying silent doesn’t help, and I’m done being concerned with whether or not I upset or offend someone who has just said something insulting and sexist.
We live in a male dominated society. We have yet to have a female president, the majority of elected officials are male, women on average make less money than their male counterparts with equal qualifications, there are less female CEOs and women in leadership positions, the list could go on and on. And yet, there are conversations happening about the horrors of “everyday misandry” (it’s hard to even write that), there are Men’s Rights Activists (whose real aim is to go back to about 1950 in the area of women’s rights and roles), and people that really believe that sexism doesn’t exist. I have a few questions for those people.
- When you have an idea, is it almost always immediately dismissed, only to be introduced by a member of the opposite sex shortly after and met with over the top approval?
- Do you make less money than a member of the opposite sex makes for the same job, having the same qualifications?
- When you take charge of a situation, do people refer to you as bossy or bitchy?
- Do people expect you to apologize when you take charge of a situation?
- Are you are dismissed on a subject on which you are knowledgeable because of your appearance?
- Are you (and your intelligence) consistently judged solely on your appearance?
- Are you are consistently talked over by members of the opposite sex?
- Are you are consistently dismissed or ignored regardless of your position and how hard you worked for said position?
- Are your health care decisions decided by the government, most of whom are of the opposite sex?
- Have you been groped or touched by strangers against your will? Is this something you have to worry about frequently when you go out?
- Do you have to work twice as hard for half as much acknowledgement?
When they can answer “yes” to all or most of those questions, then I think that there would be an acceptable argument that men face the same sexist issues as women. We know that’s not the case.
To be clear, I don’t wish these things on men. That would be cruel, as the every day sexism that women face is frustrating, insulting, and infuriating. Instead, I wish for a world where there was true equality of the sexes. Wishing doesn’t accomplish anything though, we need to work at it. We need to stand up and say something when there is an injustice, we need to call people out, and we need to support and encourage the people that are standing up for true equality.
Moving forward, I can do better, and we can do better. Let’s give it a try.